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Will Programmatic Advertising re-shape Digital Marketing in India?

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What makes Programmatic Advertising so promising?

Programmatic Advertising is the big leap forward that disaggregates every ad view for sale individually. This enables the advertiser, if they’re working with the right partners, to reach the right audience at the right moment across devices and boost targeted and efficient reach.

This is distinct from Search in that it is top of the marketing funnel i.e. it creates opportunity for advertisers to speak to the target audience before they’ve expressed their intent to purchase. This is where marketing needs to be truly at its most creative. Once some of the target audience have expressed their intent to purchase by searching or by visiting the advertiser’s website, they move lower in the funnel. Here, the advertiser focuses on serving rather than creating the need.

Programmatic Advertising creates access to prospects at scale!! It sees 100 Million unique users every day via nearly 3 Billion ad impressions creating a significant growth opportunity for advertisers that use this medium well.

This is distinct from Social in that it creates much bigger and varied opportunity for the advertiser to speak to the target audience. Social only creates access to a single slice of activity.

Programmatic Advertising creates access to prospects in contexts more than just social!!
Finally, most mature Programmatic Advertising platforms aim to encompass prospecting, retargeting, social, native and display on all devices in a single framework today. Everything other than search.

What makes Programmatic Advertising disruptive?

Driven by smart phones, Aadhaar, Jio, Hotstar, Netflix and self-service zero-balance accounts, reach of Internet is now estimated to be around 400 Million users (in 2017). This will likely increase to more than 700 Million in 2020. This reach is now second to only TV’s and now supports a range of applications – banking, entertainment, networking, news, connecting with family etc. etc.

At this level of penetration, Internet in India has become a milieu that reflects the Indian society. Thus, digital marketers can no longer assume that Internet is only accessed by certain Socio Economic Classes (SECs). They will now have to work much harder to sift through this ocean by using tools like analytic data to only reach their target audience. Without this efficiency, even a large digital advertising spend is likely to be lost without impact in the ocean that is Internet in India.

Advertisers will likely spend around INR 7,500 Crores on digital advertising in India in 2018. If global trends are any indicators, Programmatic Advertising could be between INR 500 and 1,000 Crores. However, to leverage this technique, digital marketers will have to re-skill themselves as some of the older techniques (such as over-reliance on affiliate networks) have already started showing signs of under-performance.

What needs to change to leverage Programmatic Advertising?

Attribution & Measurement: The last click attribution model needs to be replaced by a different measurement model that is more sophisticated and mirrors the user journey. The last click attribution model was fine when the content destinations were limited, now users celebrate the choice they have by going to sites as varied as a blog and Times of India. Advertising on Internet works exactly like on TV or paper i.e. creates top of the mind recall to begin with and then drives engagement. An attribution model that credits work done by all touch points is much more likely to allow leveraging of Programmatic Advertising to drive growth at performance.

Dynamic Creatives: Given the much wider variety of audience profiles on the Internet in India, there is need to speak to each of these groups differently. Hence, creative variety and personalisation needs to be used even for prospecting rather than only for retargeting as done today.

Use of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Party Data: Given that Internet in India represents all SECs, use of targeting data is critical to segment audiences to ensure that the communication is reaching the right audience.
My belief is that we will see rise of digital first marketing teams. The teams that crack the above imperatives will create significant differentiation against their competitions and truly enable Internet as a growth marketing channel for their business.

Nitin Chowdhary, Director, Digital Infusion Pvt Ltd

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Nitin Chowdhary

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